Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh succumb to the intoxicating power of lust and obsession in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Present.
A new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play, most commonly referred to as Platonov,The Present unfolds over the course of a raucous weekend birthday celebration in the Russian countryside. Old flames ignite in this passionate and bitingly comic play. Performed by thirteen of Australia’s finest actors, The Present is adapted by Andrew Upton, who – with Ms. Blanchett – led Sydney Theatre Company in an acclaimed five-year tenure responsible for such watershed productions as A Streetcar Named Desire (BAM, 2009) and Uncle Vanya (Lincoln Center Festival, 2012).
John Crowley (Fox Searchlight’s Brooklyn) directs the production which marks the Broadway debuts of both Ms. Blanchett and Mr. Roxburgh.
Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh lead the Sydney Theater Company in a sparkling production of “The Present,” Andrew Upton’s free-form treatment of Anton Chekhov’s “Platonov.” The original play, an early effort written when the playwright was 21, is quite the shaggy dog — rambling, unfocused and stuffed with gratuitous characters. But the spirit of Chekhovian farce shines bright, and the ensemble work of this Aussie company is just grand.
Blanchett is a living, winning wonder of the stage, and employing her native Australian accent, brings a compelling sense of a widow who, hosting her own 40th birthday party, can see her chances of happiness slipping away. In this transfer from Sydney Theatre Company she is surrounded by a cast of ace Australian actors, including the fine Richard Roxburgh as Platonov. John Crowley’s carefully calibrated production takes its time – it runs to a hefty three hours – but rewards the attention.
Cate Blanchett aims a gun directly at the audience in the opening moments of The Present, Andrew Upton's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Platonov, now playing at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Upton (who is married to Blanchett) has smartly refashioned the much-maligned early Chekhov effort in a way that feels especially relevant to 2017. As we've come to expect from Chekhov, the gun will fire before the play is over...but not for another three hours.